STRIKER…a very interesting band for many reasons, but the biggest one is the fact that no two albums sound alike. They’ve been categorized as speed/thrash metal with some NWOBHM elements for the most part sure, but on new disc Stand In the Fire (February 5 via Record Breaking Records, their own label) they have gone a more traditional metal route and the results are glorious. Any one of these tracks could have been on Dial MTV or Headbangers Ball back in the day while fitting in with today’s modern metal scene. The combination of melody and punch simmers just to a boil and never once burns the pot. And don’t worry, the NWOBHM influences are still there, thank the Gods. This is 100% the best direction for this band.
As soon as I plugged in I once again felt like a teenager in my room playing a CD I bought from the local record store, or high-speed dubbing (remember that???) a tape that a friend loaned me overnight so I would have kickass bedtime and school bus ride tunes! Opener “Phoenix Lights” should have been called “Riff City” because the guitars of Tim Brown simply set shit on fire. Vocalist Dan Cleary comes in wailing away with the authority of a longtime veteran and you know very early on to fasten your seatbelts. And if you didn’t get that message the first time drummer Adam Brown and bassist William Wallace will help drive it home during “Out For Blood”, a song during which you can really feel them. There’s also some killer saxophone stuff going on.
First single and absolute favorite “Too Late” gets the “Repeat 10x” treatment every single time I put the record on. It’s such a throwback to a time when music was done right: the verse structure, the build-up to the chorus, just everything about it. I can’t get enough of this one and I don’t think I will anytime soon. The title track is a bombastic number guaranteed to have all heads banging and fists in the air, as will “The Iron Never Lies”. The latter is a tinge more melodic, but no less ballsy. Oh, and the dual-single-guitar-solo is tasty as Hell. And if it’s sickass guitars you’re looking for, look no further than instrumental “Escape From Shred City.” Tim Brown goes off like a Kentucky Derby racehorse, and you can almost feel the electricity shooting from his fingertips!
Speaking of horses, “Outlaw” is a galloping tune chock full o’double kick drums and thunderous bass behind the riffs. “Locked In” is the type of song that is/was tailor-made for the tape deck of a 1980’s Camaro (or whatever shitbox we could afford back then, right?!?) while cruising down the highway en route to the party, wherever that was. Cleary’s vocals are at the forefront of the anthemic “United” and the band behind him matches his intensity stride for stride. The song that knocked me for the biggest loop was “Better Times” because it goes from one extreme to the other in seconds flat, leaving you stunned, but in a good way. The guys chose to end things on a mellow note with closer “One Life”, and while it’s good I can’t help but wonder if it might have been better placed in the middle of the disc to break things up a bit.
All in all though, STRIKER have put out what is unquestionably THE best record of their career with Stand In the Fire. I love the classic metal influences that they’ve embraced while keeping things modern and fresh and staying true to who they are. This is the type of album you pop in first thing in the morning every day to get yourself pumped and motivated for what lies ahead. I really hope they hit Philly on the next tour because I need to experience these songs live. Pick up your copy February 5 and rock the fuck out!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Too Late”, “Phoenix Lights”, “Locked In”, “Escape From Shred City”, “Stand In the Fire”